How to Build a Tin Canoe, by Robb White --wild, candid boat lore
October 12, 2005
[$25 postpaid in the US. Hard to find. Hardcover, 228 pages, nifty ragged-right page trim. I have one copy. They're scarce and lovely. I wonder why nobody has found this listing.]
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What's So Special About This Book?
This is rare'n'tasty candid writing about life by the sea. It's by Robb White---old fart and master boatbuilder. And I now have some copies in stock.
Robb and his cohorts grew up wild on the flats of the Florida Panhandle, and he seems to know everything worth knowing. But don't worry, he's generous, discerning, subtle---a fascinating form of erudite folksy bombast that probably owes something to the fertile South where he was raised.
His knowledge of Gulf Coast culture, marine life, boats, motors (and everything else) is fresh and funny.
The way they cook seafood down there, in particular, is simple, direct and inspiring. You'll want to try his family's fish soup.
The tales (excerpt) of how he and his relatives played as kids---naked, pushing a rowboat around in the shallows, eating raw crabs and scallops like coons---are awesome, for a certain kind of reader. If you might be that kind: run, don't walk to order this book from me!
I discovered Robb White in the pages of the world's best little boat magazine "Messing About In Boats." He writes a lot of words most months for them---and everyone eats them up. I can tell he's influenced and emboldened some of the other writers who contribute. He's a hero of the magazine. He's considered one of the best, most legendarily digressing boat writers out there, but I suspect he's not that well known even in boatland. Still, he has fans---but it's not just the boating that gets them. He's a real character, and writer.
(Yes, his sister is a famous writer and former NPR radio person.)
I believe he won me over the time that he had a cover photo of the try-out of a new rowboat which had a fishing pole and HUGE bass in the bottom of it in the composition. The article was about the boat. But in the next issue he starts out with "OK, I know everyone was wondering about that fish..." The humorous, digressive connection to the reader was wonderful. (And it truly looked like a new world record bass and may well be by now, but ya gotta read the story behind the photo to find out more and learn things about fishing that you never imagined...)
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